Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to Light

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Thin Films

Thin films are everywhere, but most people aren’t even aware they exist.

This is the technology behind every cell phone, touch screen, laptop, and tablet. We carry thin films in our pockets and purses, and we sit in front of them at our desks. At this moment, these words and images are visible because of thin film technology.

But still, for those of us who work in the field thin film technologies, it can be a challenge to explain exactly what thin films are and how they are used.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to LightWe can hold up a cell phone and say that it is made of many remarkably thin layers of material. We can explain that such layers can have amazing properties: impervious to oxygen, conductive yet transparent, catalytic, self-cleaning, anti-reflective. They can generate electricity from light, or reflect heat while transmitting visible light.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to LightBut ultimately, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s hard to grasp exactly how thin films work without actually seeing it illustrated. We hope the graphics below will ease those challenging conversations and promote understanding of a technology that surrounds us—sometimes literally.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to LightInside a cell phone, each layer has specific properties and a specific function. (Click graphic to enlarge.)

Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to Light

Flat-screen displays are made of thousands of rows  of tiny thin-film transistors. (Click graphic to enlarge.)

Hidden in Plain Sight: Bringing Thin Films to Light Architectural glass reflects heat while transmitting visible light. This reduces the energy consumed for air conditioning and lighting inside an office or residence.

Advanced Energy

Enter AE’s #HiddenInPlainSightContest on Twitter! 

AE provides power for the vacuum coating processes that create the thin films we use every day.

To celebrate the marvel of this technology, and in anticipation of SVC TechCon on April 25 to 30, 2015, we are giving away an iPad mini™ in our #HiddenInPlainSightContest. Contest details.

We’d love to see a photo of the ways you interact with thin films every day!

Click graphic for contest details.

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